Young people, who understands them?
When David Cameron delivered a speech in 2006 calling for people to “hug a hoodie”, the British Prime Minister was trying to say that he got young people; that he saw them as loveable adolescents and not an urban menace.
“We - the people in suits - often see hoodies as aggressive, the uniform of a rebel army of young gangsters,” he said.
Whether it’s about crime or immigration, education or identity it seems that people in suits the world over are increasingly preoccupied by youth. And they have good reason to be.
Africa has the youngest population in the world with 200 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24. Though better educated than ever, and living in countries that are stronger economically than ever,many young people are “left behind” and “frustrated”.
That frustration is also shared by young people in the developed world. In a 2013 study from the International Labour Organisation, youth unemployment stood at 54% in Greece.
And so the suits continue to gather, trying to figure out what to do about joblessness and the ‘youth bulge’, publishing interminable reports and recommendations, but what do young people have to say for themselves?
On Friday 24 October, in an event that will span 24 countries in 24 hours, we intend to find out. The Guardian Global Development Professionals and the Guardian Public Leaders networks will be organising a global tweetathon. This is an opportunity for young people and their advocates to give their own answers to the question: “How do we better engage young people socially, economically and politically?”